Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July Everybody!

Crist picks Taylor for Palm Beach County commission seat

Local Blogger Ignoring Facts (nothing new) and Stokes Conspiracy Theory

A local blogger (ehem) has linked one of the principals of the Sunset Property with the current issue regarding Mojito's and their hours of operation. Here is the e-mail chain between me and the blogger in an attempt to set the record straight. As of posting, she continues to leave the erroneous post on her blog - thinking that since it's the same family, the same "conspiracy" holds true. Link to Palm Beach Post article.

If you read the article, you'll know that Mr. Lang, Sr. has no interest in the business now. It was run by his family as a bar for many years and the attorney representing Mojito's is going back to him for his recollection on their hours of operation - back when. Other than being a member of the family that formerly owned the business - back when, the principal with the Sunset property has no tie to this property. This doesn't stop the blogger from using the son's picture and tie-in with the Sunset property as evidence of some dark "good old boy" conspiracy.

This is a good example of the type of fiction offered as truth told at many a doorstep during campaign season.

Required Reading: City Manager's Reports

I hope she keeps this up. These are issued at the end of each week and include a wide range of topics. Click title for link. In this one for July 3rd, she talks about vegetation and trash pick-up woes (sounding like an elected official should sound), the status of the negotiation with the County on the water contract, changing of the hours at the beach and more.

When there is a Commission Meeting, you can find the link under the regular meeting agenda - City Manager Report. Going to the website on the off weeks, they can be found under City Manager (left side of page) - then click on the link that says "City Manager Reports."

From the Palm Beach Post:

Click here for article on Mojito's

And these letters to the Editor re Hometown Democracy - Amendment 4 on 2010 Ballot

Amendment 4 threatens to bury voters in piles of land-use changes

Blackner's rebuttal of Post writer strays off the point under debate

Fourth of July Party Music:

zSHARE - Matt-T_Live_at_Lovedove_3rd_July_2009.mp3

This comes from a good friend of mine in Windsor, Ontario. Think of it as a Canadian Fourth of July gift to the USA. Downloadable to your portable digital music devices!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech...

From the C-51 Canal on the north, to 18th Avenue South, from the Atlantic Ocean to the western city limits...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

From the June 26th City Manager's Report - Rachel Bach's Resignation Letter and Need for New Director...

Remember to click on images for greater detail.

'Top 6' gang in Lake Worth and Boynton Beach featured on History Channel's 'Gangland' series

Click title for link.

The Gangland episode will air tonight at 9 on the History Channel. For more information about the program visit

Interaction with Lake Worth Utilities...

Remember Wilma? Of course you do if you were around Lake Worth in October 2005. That was a couple of months before I started the blog. The back part of my house was hit pretty hard. In the process of things flying around, my electrical connection, meter etc. was ripped off the house. The picture above was taken while waiting for an inspection - after my neighbors already had power for a few days. I happened to be on a long list, along with other people in a similar circumstance, waiting for an inspection first, then delivery of a meter and a tie-in to the grid from the house.

After the inspection, the day finally came when I got a call - around 10 p.m. that the crew was ready to put in the meter and connect the house to the main power line. Two guys get here with a truck "the size of Denmark." They get out and start connecting the three leads to the new power line they strung from the pole. I chat with them. They said they were from Ohio and they'd been working "two shifts plus" everyday since the storm. They said they had just come from the southwest part of the city and had been doing the same thing all day.

A couple of thoughts came to mind - wouldn't it be more efficient to assign crews based on location rather than who was next in line. If you had a crew in one geographic area, more time could be spent doing what needed to be done hooking up houses rather than driving from one of the farthest reaches of town to another. They said they had been doing this all day but didn't have a meter in the truck so they had to go by the shop - which they probably just passed on the way here - to get one. They left and came back in about 45 minutes. Finally, I was back on line after about 20 days without power.

Why do I tell this story now? Last week, during one of the rain storms, I noticed my lights flickering, but not completely losing power. This happened a couple of times - enough so that I started wondering if there was something unique to my property. I went out and looked at the connection to the house and at the line between the meter and the city's pole. Something didn't look quite right with the "neutral" line - the silver wire. It looked "loose" for lack of a better term.

So I called Utilities Customer Service and they sent someone out. They were here in about two hours. They decided to replace all of the leads coming into the house. They said something about corrosion, being close to the ocean, but I think it comes down to sloppy work by the contractors the city employed in the storm's aftermath. If you suffered the same fate as I did, I would recommend having someone who knows what they are looking at check the work that was done. I understand that had the "neutral" feed come completely off, there could have been a catastrophic fire if not detected soon enough.

Hope this helps prevent a disaster.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Golf Course Shoreline Clean-up July 11th - Volunteers Needed

Last April, a start was made to the clean up of the intracoastal shoreline along the Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course, as 25 volunteers removed 25 trash bags full of litter from the area south of the clubhouse. On Saturday July 11th work will continue to the north. The area is littered with old tires, broken bits of lumber, plastic and paper trash. All are welcome to participate in this clean-up effort spearheaded by the Kiwanis Club of Lake Worth. Volunteers will meet at the clubhouse (located at 7th Ave N and the intracoastal) at 8 AM. You don’t have to be a Kiwanis member to join in the effort, but volunteers must be 18 years old or accompanied by a parent.

All participants are asked to park in the golf course parking lot the morning of the event. Golf carts will be used to shuttle folks to the cleanup locations along the length of the shoreline. Plenty of garbage bags and latex gloves will be provided. Please be sure to wear old clothes, closed-toed shoes, sunblock, sunglasses, and hats if you have them.

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time. There are over 350,000 members in 84 countries.

New Orleans was Nation’s Fastest-Growing City in 2008 Population Getting Closer to Pre-Katrina Levels

Click title for link to U.S. Census press release. Notice that there are no Florida cities on the list. The only Florida city to make it on the absolute (numbers of people) increase was Jacksonville.

Special City Commission Meeting on 7/20 to determine fate of CRA

This leaves very little time for any other outcome other than the City Commission taking over the functions of the CRA. Existing CRA board member terms expire on July 31, 2009. If the City Commission does act to disband the existing CRA, it will be another example of the Commission consolidating power, discouraging public input via volunteer boards and taking on another specific and often complicated function. It would essentially squelch any opposition voice - a continuing trend where we actually have little or no debate on major issues. This also comes after two joint CRA/City Commission meetings when City Commissioners never discussed this possibility.

The City Commission already has trouble focusing on what it needs to do to manage the functions of the city and utilities. The CRA will become a "grab bag" for Commissioner Jennings' et al projects which will deplete the funds necessary to spur re-investment in our community. The promise of the CRA becoming a self-sustaining financial entity will all but disappear.

More later on this important topic.

Three anouncements from the City this morning:


The City of Lake Worth is currently seeking volunteers to serve on City Boards with vacancies, as follows:

Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals (Electric Contractor)

Firefighters' Pension Trust Fund -- Division 1

If you are interested in serving on the above Boards, please contact the City Clerk's Office at 586-1663 for further information, or the Board Application can be downloaded from the City of Lake Worth's website at All applications must be received by the City Clerk's Office no later than Friday, July 10, 2009, at 5:00 PM.

A Special Meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, at 5:30 PM to interview those board applicants who applied for vacant positions.

Please note the P&Z mtg. on July 1st was canceled, the Recreation Bd. meeting was rescheduled to July 2nd, and a Special Commission mtg. was added on July 20th

CITY HALL CLOSED City Hall will be closed on Friday July 3, 2009 in observance of Independence Day

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July City Meetings

PBSO Urges Fireworks Safety

Courtesy of

New PZ and HRPB Appointments

The City Commission met yesterday and appointed the following people to the Planning, Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Board: Linda Davis, Ron Exline, Lynda Mahoney, Robert Waples, Manuel Occhiogrosso. You can see the geographic distribution of the new board above and that of the old board below. It's a little better in terms of lessening the eastern bias. Mr. Occhiogrosso has an architectural background. He and Mr. Waples will be alternates to the Planning and Zoning Board. Members of the former board: McGunagle and LeBlanc were not re-appointed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Time to correct an imblance...

The City Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, Monday, June 29th to interview applicants for the Library Board, Planning and Zoning - Historic Resource Preservation - Nuisance Abatement - Sign Appeals Board (PZHRPB), and the new Sister City Board.

Above is an aerial view of the city that shows the residence locations of the current members of the PZHRPB. There are seven (7) regular members and two (2) alternate members of the Planning and Zoning Board. There are nine (9) regular members of the Historic Resource Preservation Board. These are two boards that are currently combined together, but there is a movement afoot to make them separate boards - which will be further discussed during budget considerations. It's surprising that this interview process is not taking that into account, but it hasn't happened officially yet. This board is one of the more important boards of the city and deals with many zoning/land use/site plan and preservation issues.

There are a total of five (5) terms expiring on July 31, 2009 - these are seats currently held by full members McGunagle, Foreman and LeBlanc. The two alternate PZB and full HRPB seats are up for re-appointment every year. City Clerk Lopez, in her cover memo, indicates that only one there is one vacancy since only Foreman has chosen not to re-apply. But, in reality, there are five (5) open positions.

Historically speaking, there has always been a lack of representation from the western half of the city. Of the current members, only McGunagle and Exline live west of Dixie Hwy. While I was on the board for eight years (Chairman for five, resigning in December 2006 in order to run for the District #3 Commission seat), there was NO representation from west of Dixie Hwy.

This imbalance was a major flaw as planning and zoning is such a geographic-based discipline and in a city the size of Lake Worth, your view of the physical and social world is related to where you happen to be living. The concentration of members east of Dixie Hwy. distorts the decision making process of the board and, in a very negative way, can contribute to an "us against them" dynamic that really has no place on such a board or our city. I have always maintained that if we had balanced representation from various geographic areas of the city, we would not have had the situation with the Sunset property. It might have been the same ultimate recommendation, but with broader geographic representation, including members from the southwest part of the city, the decision would have been more credible and not as subject to claims of "they didn't listen to the neighbors, etc.."

Above is the same aerial of the city with the locations of the current applicants to the PZHRPB. These include those current members that are seeking re-appointment due to an expired term. The aerial below shows the applicants' residence locations along with members of the board that do not have expiring terms - Paxman, Spinelli, DeVito, Hoctor - all of which live east of Dixie Hwy.

Beyond qualifications and experience, which you can review by clicking on the title of this post, I really believe that the variable here that is most important is geographic location. We are lucky to have a lot of qualified applicants in this batch of applications - some of which live west of Dixie Hwy. I wouldn't mind seeing all the appointments coming from there, however it is important to have representation of an architect on the board and there are two - one existing and one potential member - that are architects. Both happen to live east of Dixie Hwy. And, besides the east and west distinctions, you need to take into account a north and south potential bias. I have always thought it is good to have a few around the traditional downtown area as lots of requests spring from that area.

It's actually good news that we have an opportunity to correct a distortion of representation on one of the most important city boards. Let's hope the City Commission feels the same way after the interviews when they make their appointments. I'll be sharing this sentiment with them via e-mail.

Lake Worth, We Have a Problem. (re-post)

I thought I'd bring this back to the front of the blog for people who may not have read it before. It was an op-ed piece I did for the Lake Worth Herald during the time when the original Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant faced its Waterloo (sorry) regarding permitting RO discharge from an existing ocean outfall. At last Tuesday's 1 p.m. City Commission meeting, we learned from Dr. Darceneau, P.E. from the University of Central Florida that we know more about what happens with RO concentrate (the "waste product" from brakish water filtration and desalinization - actually 33% of the salinity of sea water and wrongly classifed as industrial waste) than we do with deep well injection 3,000 ft. below ground. We also learned that many of the problems associated with ocean outfall of concentrate can largely be dealt with through various technological applications, but deep well injection is the most promenient disposal method throughout the state of Florida. The City Commission seemed all over the board with their opinions in terms of the preferred method and, as of now, we are proceeding with deep well injection. There will be a bid package put together for a 3 mgd and and 4.5 mgd (mgd=millions of gallons per day) RO plant on the July 7th City Commission meeting agenda. This will allow for the city to apply for a state revolving loan fund grant for, I think, $3 million.

It struck me after hearing the various presentations that the ocean outfall was not that bad of an alternative - but the perception of dumping what is called "wastewater" in the ocean is difficult to overcome in the eye of public opinion.

This is a piece that Pat Parrish asked that I put together regarding the Reverse Osmosis ocean outfall. Drew Martin was to put together one against issuance of the permit. Don't forget to pick up a copy of the Herald to read both points of view!

Title: Lake Worth, we have a problem.

Our problem began about 100 years ago when the human population of South Florida began to increase. First brought by trains, then by cars, then by airplanes, then by boats and eventually by combinations of all modes of transportation, the population of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties mushroomed to over 5,000,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the year 2000, the area even gained the “honor” of being a named Urbanized Area by the Bureau. Over the past 50 years, our region has outpaced all but two others within the United States in annual percentage rates of growth. The post-World War II growth is the most phenomenal. In 1950, our region’s population was 500,000. Since that time we have added a population equal to the cities of Chicago and Philadelphia combined! Being part of the region, Lake Worth’s growth followed the same pattern, but is now relatively stable.

Now, think about our geography as a region. We have another honor in that we are one of the longest urbanized areas in the Country. We are about the same length as the New York metropolitan area – there is no close second. This is due to being sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and what is left of the Everglades to the west. The very reasons that we came here – a unique sub-tropical environment and proximity to the Gulfstream became the ultimate controllers of our geographic and, maybe, of our population growth. The extensive geographic length of the region spreads its human impact over a much greater area – especially as it relates to ocean-related resources. One needs only to look at the devastation of the coral reef system in the Keys as one of the results of this concentration of human activity.

Like the 1971 Earth Day “Pogo” Cartoon so succinctly put: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We are placing more demands upon a sensitive eco-system with every new person that moves here. Each drink of water, flush of the toilet and turn of the spigot is more than nature or man ever anticipated. The results have been most recently demonstrated by our current record drought situation, the shrinking of Lake Okeechobee and threats to our own municipal potable water well sources.

In search of a stable source of potable water, a previous City Commission chose to go forward with its own reverse osmosis plant instead of contracting with Palm Beach County Water Utilities as a supplemental source of water due to probable saltwater intrusion into the surficial aquifer. This became necessary by the South Florida Water Management District’s reduction of our permit to draw water from the surficial aquifer – from 7.5 million to 5.5 million gallons per day. Our City of Lake Worth’s demand will range from 8 to 12 million gallons of water per day.

Regardless of your position on whether or not going forward with the reverse osmosis plant was a good idea for the City of Lake Worth, $40 million in bonds have been issued, plans have been drawn, work has been started and a permit to discharge 4 million gallons a day of “concentrate” – the waste product from the reverse osmosis treatment of the salty water drawn from the Floridan aquifer – may be issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). For a whole lot of money and possible impact to our off-shore natural resources, we are hanging on to our status as a “full service city”. Hopefully this will guarantee our own municipal water source for a future generation - maybe. Hubris and necessity have a price.

In reviewing a discharge permit application, DEP officials examine four main criteria to determine whether or not such a permit would be in the public interest. One is reduction upon the reliance on the surficial aquifer which is vulnerable to saltwater intrusion. With the reverse osmosis plant taking its water source from the shallower Floridan aquifer, this criterion is met. Another criterion is that the discharge of concentrate does not create a public health hazard. The concentrate would not have bacteria or suspended solids, so it meets this criterion according to DEP. A third criterion is that the discharge of this concentrate would not have an impact on the Surface Water Management Plan and, given the ocean location of the existing dormant outfall, it wouldn’t impact that resource.

Nutrients have been linked to reef degradation and algal growth, which smothers reefs. Concern about the release of the concentrate through the existing ocean outfall relates to its potential impact on the coral reef system. This includes the Horseshoe Reef that is approximately 5,000 feet (slightly less than one mile) from the discharge point. In DEP’s opinion, based upon the experts working on the City’s behalf and their own professional experience, the scientific modeling showed no impact to the reef system – the final criterion upon which an application is judged. Experts concluded that the additional nutrients carried within this lighter-than-ocean-water concentrate would be ten times less nutrient laden than the next closest source of nutrients – that being rainwater. It is further dwarfed by other point sources of nutrient contamination along Florida’s Atlantic coast. These include the two outlets from the Lake Worth Lagoon and six wastewater outfalls along the eastern coast of Florida – the main contributors to the ocean’s nutrient load. Its lighter-than-ocean-water quality has been shown by experts to carry the reverse osmosis concentrate up and away from the bottom of the ocean – the reef’s habitat.

Other alternatives to the discharge have been examined and discarded due to excessive cost, impracticalities or other negative environmental impacts. Also being discussed is a possible Lake Worth Lagoon discharge.

So, Lake Worth, we have a problem. The City is in the unenviable position that it must assert itself as being just another very small straw on a weakened camel’s back. We are just a five mile by five mile municipality of around 40,000 people – 0.8% of the region’s total population. Those that are against this outfall for environmental reasons see the City as potentially being the straw the breaks the camel’s back once and for all.

The point here is that we really need to do all we reasonably can to control the large point-source contributors of nutrients to the ocean’s ecology from South Florida’s mega-urbanized area – which would likely have a large positive impact per dollar spent on the reef system. We also need to monitor the results of the concentrate discharge both for nutrient content and reef impact – by a third party and for the long term. We must also sever any connection so that future sewage discharge is impossible (one of the former uses of the outfall and one of the conditions of the permit). And, finally, we need to take into account all relevant public and scientific comments. We should make sure that we thoroughly examine other alternatives, such as a discharge to the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Taking all this into consideration, DEP should issue the discharge permit with these and other applicable conditions to safeguard our reef system for future generations – along with a providing a reliable and relatively economical supply of drinking water for the 40,000 residents of Lake Worth.